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The murder trial against U.S. Marine Jason Riley King is scheduled to begin today with opening statements in San Diego, California. King is accused of two counts of murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, and two counts of driving under the influence. Opening statements are expected to begin at approximately 9:00 a.m. PT/12:00 p.m. ET.
Prosecutors say King was driving a white pickup truck northbound in a southbound travel lane on State Route 163 in the San Diego area when he slammed into a Toyota Prius occupied by medical students Madison Cornwell and Anne Li Baldock. Cornwell and Baldock were killed. King was said to have a blood alcohol level of .15 or more according to a criminal complaint obtained by Law&Crime. Tests after the crash pegged him at a .145.
The criminal complaint against King also states that he injured Jared Molitoris, Stosh Ozog, and Yuki Iizuka. Iizuka became “comatose due to brain injury,” the complaint reads. The other two suffered broken bones.
Friends who were out drinking with King before the crash said in a pretrial hearing that he was drunk. They testified that a group of friends booked a hotel room and that King began drinking in the hotel bar. King then continued drinking at another establishment. King got kicked out of that bar while one of his friends was in the restroom. That friend pleaded with King to let her take him home when she realized he was drunk. Another friend got into a fight with King over whether he was too drunk to drive home. Though friends tried to prevent him from doing so, King apparently got in his truck and took off, testimony revealed. The crash happened shortly thereafter.
King was reportedly present at a Marine Corps safety “stand-down” which discussed the dangers of drinking. That stand-down was just one week before the crash. A number of members of the Marine Corps are on the state’s witness list for the trial.
Though prison records state King faces first-degree murder charges, the charging document filed in court states King is charged with murder with a possible 30-year prison sentence. That would normally be the penalty for two back-to-back second-degree murder convictions. (Local news reports suggest King faces second-degree murder charges in the case.)
Stay with Law&Crime.com and the Law&Crime Network for continuing coverage of the trial.
[Image via screen grab.]